This is a personal statement submitted to the Peace Corps. February this year, I was denied pre-medical clearance due to my mental health history. This is my story…
The summer 2001, I arrived in Chicago after spending a year living with my sister in Texas. For over a year, I did not have a parental figure that disciplined. My grades in school were above average; at 16 years of age I had a handle on how to take care of myself. My mother and I clashed often after I moved back into her home. We disagreed about how I should spend my free time and whom I should spend it with. Looking back on it, I realize how insignificant our disagreements were. We didn’t spend much time in my youth bonding and more than anything, I wanted to feel that she cared. Even now, I do not have a relationship with my mother. When family members came to visit in early August 2001, I confronted my mother after she yelled at me about an argument my cousin. This only made her more furious so she yelled some more. Broken and hopeless, I made a choice to end my never-ending suffering of family woes.
When hospitalized, I was often questioned about my reasons for wanting to end my life. And often, my mother was present. Her presence made it difficult for me to be honest without hurting her feelings. Fearful of her response, I didn’t want to return home. At the suggestion of another psych ward patient, who had some previous experience with psychiatrists, I told the doctor I was hearing voices. At the time I thought to do whatever I could to stay far away from a home with my mother. So I lied. The consequences of this lie were not something I could’ve foreseen. Outside of the dreaded medication and the diagnosis, it is now a hindrance to my acceptance into the Peace Corps.
Since my attempt, I have lived in many communities throughout the states and have traveled to a couple other countries. Adjustment into these communities, being loved and accepted by community members and contributing to the common good has been my strengths. Throughout my life I have been determined to exercise good judgment and personal responsibility to protect my health, safety and well-being, and that of others. The 8th Core Expectation has been prevalent in my actions throughout my growth, as have some of the others.
Everyone has evolved since 2001, myself included. I am not the diagnosis on those discharge papers. Not then and definitely not presently. The year after my attempt I learned both meditation and yoga and these two tools have drastically improved my life. These tools are a part of my daily life. These tools allow me to have the physical and mental capacity to do the essential functions of my Peace Corps assignment regardless of what that may be.
In 2012 after losing five people within a year span, I sought therapy. Every person that I know would have done exactly the same thing. You seek help when you need it. And in this case I was not capable of processing the heavy load of grief without professional counseling. This does not show a lack of stability; in fact this indicates my level of sanity. Concerns of isolation and feelings of safety seem to me a natural concern when living in a foreign community, but my concerns are far from a limitation. They are merely an awareness of all the aspects of service with the Peace Corps. With the tools mentioned above, I do not need any mental health care. Years of my life I have struggled to process the experiences of my youth and I have been ready, for a while now, to move forward with my life and make lasting change in our global community.